From the editor's desk: Keeping holiday memories alive
August 8, 2019 | 9:30 AM
by Charles Lavery
Happy Holiday

Holidays. Whoop! The last few days of work before a holiday sees everyone with a slightly springier step, a ready smile and faraway look in the eye.

Walking through the office, when Eid salaries drop into accounts and the SMS ping tones start to go off, I am reminded of just how important taking a break is.

It got me thinking: what do I remember about my previous holidays? The holidays of adulthood do not tend to stand out so much as those of childhood.

They are a blur of previous lives and people and countries; from Greek beaches and prawns to American theme parks to swimming with dolphins in Cuba to sleepless in Sofia.

Perhaps, in adulthood, you take your camera and rely on the photos and the videos and the waiter to do all the work, whereas in childhood, sweet, glorious childhood, all you had was your memory.

Perhaps that’s why I recall a brother’s socks stealthily buried on a beach and marked with a stick, until the tide came in and swept the stick away, the socks forever lost and a brother forever taunting me over it.

Perhaps it’s why I recall thunder and lightning storms from childhood holidays, in an old tin caravan on a beach, with the heavy rain rat-a-tat-tatting like a machine gun off the roof as the lightning sporadically lit up a small rectangular window high up on the wall of the van.

Or running wild and free during school holidays, until 11pm in the gloaming of a Scottish summer evening, when the sun never seemed to truly set.

These were the holidays pre-world wide web. There were no mobile phones. A satellite was a state providing a buffer zone around the USSR. We had three channels on the telly. Only two of them really worked, unless you were an expert at tweaking the wire aerial sticking from the top of a TV that closed down at midnight and showed a static “testcard” photo onscreen until programming began again the next morning.

And the caravan on the beach didn’t have a telly.

What it did have was our entire family, bundled in. The kitchen table miraculously converted to something akin to a bed, and there was a funfair in the park on the beach with a moonscape bouncy castle.

It was burned on all our internal hard drives, and we still share the memories of that trip. Eating campfire sausages covered in sand, sitting around the flames on a beach that seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see.

We made our own fun, then, and the fun we made was as a collective, not sitting solo on phones, as we see so much now. We remember our childhood holidays because they were precious. Family was all around, everyone was there; nobody thought of adult things like death and taxes. We wondered where the next sand covered sausage was coming from.

Everyone in the office has made their plans for this gloriously long Eid Al Adha break. Some abroad, some at home, some sleeping, some planning activity breaks, but there is one thing we all have in common: family. That’s what holidays should be about, and it’s why we work so hard and wait for the glory days to come around.

If I fast-forward through the decades since that first childhood caravan holiday, I can see that my memories of that earlier time have reshaped in my head, become more bittersweet as my parents, so central to the images in my head, are no longer with us. Let’s unplug, unwind, spend time. Eid Al Adha Mubarak. [email protected]

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